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Understanding Tennis Elbow: Causes and Symptoms & Effective Exercises

Posted On 30-01-2024

We're all in awe when we see the swift movement of a tennis player's arm, the artistic strokes of a painter creating a wonder, right? From slamming keys in a 9-5 job to performing daily chores, you give in a lot physically. What connects these seemingly unrelated activities is the intricate network of tendons, muscles, and joints that make our daily tasks possible. This delicate balance is disrupted, resulting in a condition known as tennis elbow. Whether you're an avid tennis player or someone who spends long hours typing on a computer, tennis elbow can affect anyone.

What is a Tennis Elbow?

Firstly, tendons are strong cords connecting muscles to bones. Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, occurs when the tendons that bend your wrist backwards become swollen. The specific tendon often affected is the extensor carpi radialis brevis. Both men and women can be diagnosed with tennis elbow.

What Causes the Condition?

What triggers a condition like the Tennis elbow is repeating the same movements with the elbow, forearm, and wrist/finger muscles. This repetitive stress affects the tendons connected to the elbow. Certain professions such as carpenters, painters, butchers, and office workers, involve continuous repetitive motions. Such people are more prone to having Tennis elbow.

Overusing these muscles strains the tendons at the elbow joint, leading to inflammation and pain. Everyday activities like lifting, opening doors, and gripping objects create tension in the forearm muscles, potentially causing persistent pain that extends from the elbow down to the back of the forearm.’

Some of the main Tennis Elbow Symptoms are:

  1. Elbow pain (Particularly on the outer part of your elbow, which is the side farthest from the centre of your body when your arms are down with your palms facing forward.)
  2. Stiffness.
  3. Swelling.
  4. A weakened grip

Effective Exercises for a Tennis Elbow

To address tennis elbow, start by lessening the inflammation and giving your affected muscles and tendons ample rest. Using ice and compression can be beneficial here. Gradually you can start engaging in exercises to strengthen the muscles and prevent them from coming back.

Wrist Extension Stretch

Begin with your arm supported. Turn your palm down and gently bend your wrist until you sense a stretch in the back of your forearm. Maintain this position for 15 seconds. Repeat the exercise up to three times, taking enough breaks between each set. A physiotherapist might enhance the exercise by applying pressure with the other hand.

Wrist Range of Motion

For this exercise, start in a comfortable position and gently rotate your wrist first in one direction and then in the other. Ensure the movements are smooth, avoiding any sudden jerks. Repeat the rotation up to 10 times in each direction, taking breaks as needed. If supervised by a physiotherapist, they may progress the exercise by increasing the range or altering the direction of movement for optimal benefits.

Wrist Lift and Palm Up

Performing a wrist lift with the palm facing up involves gripping a lightweight, such as a small dumbbell or a tin of food. Begin by bending your elbow at a right angle, then extend your hand outward with the palm facing up. Bend your wrist up toward your body, holding this position for 5 seconds before releasing slowly. Repeat this sequence nine more times and aim to complete two additional sets of 10 repetitions for a comprehensive workout.

Towel Twist

For the towel twist exercise, start by holding a loosely rolled-up towel lengthways, with one hand at each end. Keep your shoulders relaxed as you twist the towel by moving your hands in opposite directions as if wringing out water. Repeat this motion nine more times, and then switch to the reverse direction, repeating the twist ten more times. This exercise helps enhance flexibility and strength in the upper body.

Elbow Bend

For the elbow bend exercise, start by standing straight. Lower your arm to one side and then slowly bend the arm upwards until your hand touches the shoulder. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds, and then repeat this sequence nine more times. This exercise promotes flexibility and strength in the arm muscles and can contribute to overall upper-body mobility.

It's crucial to understand that focusing solely on the elbow is not enough. Strengthening the muscles in the upper back, shoulders, and core is equally essential for comprehensive rehabilitation.


Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is pain in the side of the elbow always a result of tennis elbow?

No. Tennis elbow is one of the issues which can be the inflammation of muscle and tendons. It can also be due to inflammation of the nerve neuritis or neuropathy. It can be even due to arthritis or issues in the cartilage

2. Who is at risk of developing tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow can occur in two ways: through the sudden lifting of heavy weights or due to repetitive strain from activities like typing, manual labour such as hammering, and sports participation, especially for those involved in sports like tennis players athletes, etc. The underlying issue often lies in the weakness of the core muscles in the shoulder, upper back, and shoulder muscles. This weakness can lead to increased strain on the elbow muscles when subjected to additional force.

3. Is it possible for tennis elbow to go away without treatment?

Yes. If it’s a minor sprain, it can heal with rest.

Whether you're an athlete, an office worker, or someone who engages in repetitive activities, acknowledging the importance of proper care for your elbows is a step towards a healthier, pain-free lifestyle.

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Baby Das

Last one year I was suffering from acute shoulder pain on my left shoulder. I went to several doctors, but not diagnosed.

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